Feeds

Shuttleworth heir opens up on Ubuntu biz

Canonical kingdom spans 10 million machines

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The community

The Canonical business is, of course, driven through the Ubuntu community, the vast majority of which get the software for free and don't pay anything for it because they do not consume services offered by Canonical. Just like the Fedora and openSUSE projects do not generate money (or much money, in the case of openSUSE, which Novell will offer tech support for, unlike Red Hat with Fedora).

So how big is that community? And what potential does it have for generating increasing revenues?

"All of our indicators are imperfect ones," explains Silber, and that is because Ubuntu's desktop and server distros do not have call-home features that allow Canonical to track their use; and while Canonical does have a sense of how many Ubuntu licenses are distributed through OEM deals, the problem is that in some cases, a box with Ubuntu is sold and then the Linux is nuked and a pirated copy of Windows is plunked down on the machine. "We know this happens on certain machines in certain markets, and we obviously don't like it," Silber says.

As far as Canonical can tell from its indirect indicators, the worldwide base of machines running Ubuntu is above 10 million. Back in October 2007, when Ubuntu 7.10 was launched, Shuttleworth was estimating the base to be around 6 million. (In 2006, Shuttleworth was guessing 8 million users, but backed down from that number). According to Silber, using some of the indicators it uses to reckon its installed base are growing at 10 per cent per month, which is very healthy growth for any software company, open source or not.

The important thing - and one that perhaps Novell should take a lesson from - is that Ubuntu's headcount and presumably its revenues (because Shuttleworth is actually a businessman) are growing at a faster clip than the installed base. Which could mean that Ubuntu has a fairly high conversion rate, relative to other open source programs, moving freebie customers to paid services.

The other interesting thing about the Ubuntu business is how it is changing. The vast majority of the support contracts that Canonical gets money from come from companies, not consumers, although consumers sometimes pay for an Ubuntu support contract indirectly when they buy Ubuntu embedded in a device.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
HTML5 vs native: Harry Coder and the mudblood mobile app princes
Developers just want their ideas to generate money
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Protecting against web application threats using SSL
SSL encryption can protect server‐to‐server communications, client devices, cloud resources, and other endpoints in order to help prevent the risk of data loss and losing customer trust.